New textbook requirements risk aid

Photo by Kiyah Crittendon

A part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) requiring professors to determine the required materials for each course and give this information to Auxiliary Services before pre-registration in late March or early April went into effect this year.

“…the last time we looked at that, it as close to $100 million in financial aid that could be at risk.”

The implementation of this law, created to reduce the high cost of textbooks, has led to the formation of a textbook task force by the Division of Auxiliary Services. The purpose of this task force is to achieve a more strict compliance with the textbook reporting requirements.

“The stated penalty in the law is that it could put at risk all of the federally funded financial aid that Georgia Tech receives,” said Rich Steele, Senior Director of Auxiliary Services. “So, the last time we looked at that, it as close to $100 million in financial aid that could be at risk.”

Last year, Auxiliary Services reported that just 50 percent of the book lists were submitted by the deadline.

The HEOA, which passed in 2008, requires that institutions receiving federal assistance “shall make available to a college bookstore… the information required by subsection (d)(1) for each college textbook or supplemental material required or recommended for such a course or class.”

“…Last year, Auxiliary services reported that just 50% of the book lists were submitted by the deadline.”

“I think a lot of our faculty and departments [are] not fully aware of why we have such early deadlines; they’re not fully aware of what the requirements are of the HEOA and we’re taking the responsibility as the Georgia Tech bookstore to get out there and make sure everyone understands the need, everyone understands the benefit directly to students when we can help save money in terms of textbook costs,” Steele said.

Auxiliary Services is currently examining its policies and communications with the textbook task force. The task force will look at operational procedures to ensure that compliance is as easy as possible for departments. It will also look at how Auxiliary Services communicates the requirements to ensure that faculty and their departments understand the requirements and their benefits to students.

“It’s a relatively new standard and I think everyone is very concerned about the cost of new textbooks,” Steele said. “I think faculty are very concerned about the cost of textbooks and are working hard to try to find ways to mitigate that process.”

According to Steele, Auxiliary Services hopes that when the federal requirements are implemented, Tech will be able to report a much higher adoption rate and be able to save students more money on textbooks.

“In order to provide the very best prices for students on textbooks, we need significant advance notification about the books that will be used for each class,” Steele said. “One of the key challenges is if we don’t know a book is going to be used in the fall, we cannot buy back the book at the end of spring for 50 percent of its blue book value.”

According to the College Board, students at public schools spent almost $1,200 alone on textbooks and other course materials in the 2011-2012 academic year.